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Spotlight on Toy Soldier Artist: YJ Tinker the Paper Lord!

5 10 years ago
Spotlight On YJ Tinker Banner


Tinker is a computer tech from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. AKA the frozen Northern Wasteland.
He is also and artist with many talents. I sat down with him for an interview the other night and asked that he share his story with us.

Tinker, when did you become a Toy Soldier?

I became a Toy Soldier in Feb 2008. I was poking around on a steampunk site called Brass Goggles and saw a link for Doctor Steel and this eventually lead me to Toy Soldiers Unite. I liked what I saw and stuck around for the fun and cupcakes!

So, what got you interested in paper crafts/art?

I’ve always been artistic. I get my art/creative spark from my mom. She’s always been artsy, making bears, quilts, knitting, etc… She just got into watercolor painting.
The paper-craft thing just kind of happened after I found a small model of a Delorean online. I had so much fun building it, I started searching for more, and I found sooo much more! At one point, I had two 3′ tall Gundam robots in my office, and a life-sized machine gun from the Aliens movie.
I’ve also tried my hand at creating my own paper crafts, so far, I have made a paper soldier Timmy, a Robot, a Commander JET and some Standees for propaganda. Oh and I made a paper fez from a fabric pattern. It was great!

What kind of things motivate you to keep creating?

I find it to be very relaxing to start working on a new project, also fun. I’ll get an idea going in my head, or get a request from someone for a flyer, table display, or a new maille thing, and I’ll get Photoshop going, start some trance music and get into a creator zone/mode thing.
I can go for hours with a good beat. I think the longest I ever went before I looked at a clock was 14 hours. You get lost in the creation of whatever it is and time vanishes from existence.
Seeing TSU grow as it has in the last few years really helps keep you wanting to create bigger and better things. That and fun. Oh so much fun! (read that last bit in Invader Zim’s voice :P)
I tend to hide from the spotlight, so a lot of my motivation comes from seeing the reactions from others to the things I’ve made. If others around me are happy, then I am happy and it makes me want to create more. I’ve had one or two duds that never really took off. Some things work, some things don’t. The Paper table Standees are a good example of something that works well.
I remember when I designed that one, I printed about 200 of them, plastered the food court at a mall with them. I went back the next day only to find that the cleaning staff (I think) had removed them all. It was a bit of a bummer, but I got to get them out there, and they looked good for however long they were there.

Is there any advice could you give to others who would like to be more creative?

Don’t be afraid to try something different. If you have an idea for a mission/invasion, or a new piece of propaganda, or whatever, just run with it. Post it on the forum somewhere and see what happens.
Criticism can and will happen. People will love the idea, or they won’t. Don’t take it personally, doing that will just build a shell around your creative spark that can be very hard to break out of.
Find something you like/love, and use that to help you design, plan, organize, etc… whatever it is your idea tells you to do. Sometimes you really have to shut out the world for 15 minutes (this is important, anything less than this and you’ll never hear them. They could be in the bathroom, out in the sandbox, or having lunch. You have to let them come to you), and listen to the 5 year old in your head. He or she is a lot smarter than you think they are.

I’m sure everyone want’s to know..are you working on any new projects at the moment you can tell us about?
A while ago, Dutch asked me to re-work the cookie box. Admittedly, it’s taking a lot longer then I’d like it to. But he wanted to have a proper cookie recipe on it this time and I’ve been baking A LOT of cookies to find a really good, but simple recipe that will fit on the back of the box.

The good news is that I have found that recipe and should have a new box ready in the week or so.
Sorry Dutch, it wasn’t supposed to take so long, but the universe hates me and I ran out of flour 4 times making cookies. I think I’ve also gained a few pounds taste testing. ;)

Tinker’s art can be seen all over Toy Soldiers Unite in many threads for art and propaganda.
He has also contributed to some of our missions.

Operation: Instant TS Arm Bands
Operation: Desktop Standees
And one of our favorite pieces of propaganda we have included in the official TS Tool kit:
Fancy Flyers!

Thank you so much Tinker for sharing your story and inspiration with us! *salutes*


  1. DivineShadow

    Wonderful interview

    Kept getting interrupted by my headless doll tugging at my leg saying she cant sleep without me reading to her so I read the last half of the interview now she wants to be a toy soldier. Her head just wants out of the fridge. Starting to think I should have put the body in the fridge and keep the head out…urr

    But any way like I have said great interview, I do look forward to the next one. Toy Soldiers Unite. For Utopia and Robots.

  2. Tinker the YJ
  3. Trick

    Great interview =D

    I agree with Airhead, it would be good to see more of these =]

  4. Engineer Airhead

    Awesome interview.

    Would love to read more of these!

  5. Linden Atrocity

    Fantastic interview! :D

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